Monday, December 31, 2007

Dawson, Zastudil form record-breaking duo

Cleveland Browns kicking battery celebrates a record season

December 31, 2007

Joe Maxse

The three amigos were celebrating right next to each other in the Browns' locker room after Sunday's 20-7 victory against the San Francisco 49ers.

While Phil Dawson was the center of attention for getting a team-record 120 points by a kicker, the nine-year veteran wanted his good fortune to be spread among holder-punter Dave Zastudil and long snapper Ryan Pontbriand. In fact, he was adamant that all his teammates share in the accomplishment.

"I knew about it, but I wasn't focused on it," said Dawson, who connected on two field goals and two extra points. "It was something I was hoping to get and it was nice to share with my teammates. They all came up to me after the kick."

He passed Lou Groza's kicking total of 115 points in 1964 on a 23-yard field goal a minute before halftime. His 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter tied him with Leroy Kelly (1968) for the second-best scoring season in Browns history.

Jim Brown, who holds the record with 126 points in 1965, was on hand to congratulate Dawson.

"Yeah, wow, that's one of those things," said Dawson, when Brown and Kelly were mentioned. "It was one of those things that sneak up on you week after week. I had a lot of opportunities this season and I was able to capitalize.

"There has been a pretty big disconnect to the old Browns and this was a chance to bridge that gap. It was fun to watch my teammates respond this season. I hope the fans appreciate that."

Pontbriand said notching 120 points under the conditions the Browns have played makes joining the ranks of Groza and Brown even more remarkable.

"The weather has been absolutely horrible the last month-and-a-half," Pontbriand said. "To make kicks in those conditions, he's one of the best."

Dawson made sure to point out that Zastudil outpunted San Francisco's Andy Lee, the NFC's Pro Bowl selection.

"Today made up for the last two weeks," said Dawson, referring to Zastudil's 42.2-yard average (to Lee's 24.6). "He had a fighting chance to show what he can do."

Dawson said the season and the game should serve as a testament to coach Romeo Crennel.

"I think today more than anything was about [Crennel's] leadership," Dawson said. "It would have been really easy to go through the motions. Romeo told us to go out there and win a football game . . . win your 10th game of the year.

"To win seven in a row at home says a lot after Week 1 [the 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh]. I'm sure a lot of people were saying, 'Here we go again.' "


120 Points for Phil Dawson (most by a kicker in franchise history, surpassing Lou Groza’s 115 in 1964; tied for second among all Browns.)

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